A version of this story appeared in the August 27 edition of CNN’s Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction newsletter. Sign up here to receive the need-to-know headlines every weekday.

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The US is being hammered by twin disasters today. The coronavirus outbreak is complicating efforts to evacuate people as Hurricane Laura barrels into the Gulf Coast.

More than 1.5 million Texas and Louisiana residents were under evacuation orders after the National Hurricane Center warned of “unsurvivable” storm surges of 20 feet or higher. Laura, which made landfall as a Category 4 storm before being downgraded to a Category 2 as it made its way inland, could overwhelm coasts and lead to surges reaching some 30 miles inland.

Evacuations have been hampered by Covid-19 safety protocols. Social distancing measures meant extra buses were needed to transport people out, and Louisiana residents were taken to hotels instead of shelters in an effort to keep numbers down, Theresa Waldrop writes.

But the financial fallout from the pandemic may have affected some people’s ability to pay for hotel rooms. “They can’t necessarily get a hotel room, or they can’t afford the gasoline and the cost of traveling hundreds of miles out of town, or out of an evacuation zone,” former Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Brock Long told CNN.

A pre-print study by Columbia University and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) warned in early August that a large-scale hurricane evacuation would increase Covid-19 cases in evacuees’ origin and destination counties.

But the storm also presents another challenge: Keeping up with the testing needed to detect and contain coronavirus outbreaks. “The challenge is we are going to be blind for this week,” said Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, after coronavirus testing in the state was paused due to the storm.

A photo of Hurricane Laura taken from the International Space Station on Wednesday.

YOU ASKED. WE ANSWERED

Q: What precautions should I take when riding in a vehicle with someone from another household?

A: Lamps that use ultraviolet light to kill germs can inactivate coronavirus, but they are not always safe and it’s not clear how good a job they do at killing the virus, the Food and Drug Administration said in a newly-posted advisory.

During that incubation period, it’s possible to get the coronavirus from someone with no symptoms. It’s also possible you may have Covid-19 without feeling sick and are accidentally infecting others.

Send your questions here. Are you a health care worker fighting Covid-19? Message us on WhatsApp about the challenges you’re facing: +1 347-322-0415.

WHAT’S IMPORTANT TODAY

CDC pressured by White House to change testing guidance

The fallout from the CDC’s change to its coronavirus testing guidance continues after it was revealed yesterday that pressure from the Trump administration led to the move.

Earlier this week, the CDC announced that it was no longer recommending coronavirus testing for most people without symptoms of Covid-19. The administration’s testing czar, Adm. Brett Giroir, told reporters the guideline change had approval from Dr. Anthony Fauci and other members of the White House coronavirus task force.

But Fauci told CNN he was not at the meeting as he was undergoing surgery, and warned that the guidance would “give people the incorrect assumption that asymptomatic spread is not of great concern.”

Asymptomatic people play a major role in spreading the virus, and the Infectious Disease Society of America and IDSA’s HIV Medicine Association called for the immediate reversal of the revision on Wednesday. California said it would defy the CDC’s new guidelines and announced a new partnership aimed at increasing testing to 250,000 a day.

Inside China’s push for a vaccine

Scientists globally are racing to find a way to stop the virus. CNN visited the sprawling Beijing plant at the center of China’s vaccine drive, which was purpose-built in recent months to produce the country’s CoronaVac vaccine candidate, David Culver and Nectar Gan report.

“If everything goes well, we hope that we can have some results around the end of the year,” said Helen Yang from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, which developed the vaccine.

Meanwhile in the US, a experimental vaccine from Moderna appears to be safe and elicits an immune response in all age groups, including the elderly, the firm said. But concerns are mounting that the Trump administration could pressure agencies to speed along approvals of vaccines.

Yesterday, the American Medical Association and the Infectious Diseases Society of America both called on the US Food and Drug Administration to develop a plan for greater transparency in the development of coronavirus vaccines.

Woman may have caught coronavirus in airplane toilet

Researchers say they have evidence that a woman caught the coronavirus on a flight – perhaps in the plane’s restroom. The 28-year-old woman was one of roughly 300 South Koreans evacuated from Italy at the height of the pandemic in March. She wore a mask on the flight, except when she used the toilet which was shared by passengers seated nearby – including an asymptomatic patient.

Officials who organized the flight had put into effect full infection control measures and tested everyone before they boarded. All the passengers and crew were quarantined when they got to South Korea. Six passengers tested positive soon after arrival, the woman developed symptoms eight days after the flight.

There has been very little evidence about whether people can catch the virus on planes, although airlines have changed their policies – and evidence already shows aircraft ventilation systems can clean the air thoroughly.

Europe’s second wave rustles feathers and takes down politicians

In Spain, students have announced a national strike over the conditions for a return to school. The Sindicato de Estudiantes is demanding smaller class sizes and for more teachers to be hired. The students plan to strike in mid-September.

In Berlin, authorities have banned a protest planned for this weekend over the government’s coronavirus restrictions. Organizers had planned to march through the center of the German capital on Saturday and as many as 17,000 participants had been expected to take part.

And in Brussels, EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan became the latest – and one of the most high profile – politicians to resign after breaching coronavirus-related restrictions. The Irish politician attended a political golf event in Galway in mid-August with 80 other people, a day after Ireland’s government imposed new restrictions to tackle a surge of cases. “Golfgate” has prompted the resignations of several other Irish politicians.

ON OUR RADAR

  • A recent batch of studies, many early stage and not yet peer-reviewed, show that humans have a “robust” immune response to Covid-19 that may protect them from further infection.
  • Black, Latino, American Indian and Alaskan Native people were disproportionately hospitalized for Covid-19, according to a new analysis of 12 US states’ populations.
  • A judge will decide whether a 175-guest wedding can happen in New York as a health chief says he fears the wedding could become a “super-spreader” event.
  • Lebanon has registered a record number of new Covid-19 cases, prompting calls for a new lockdown in a country still reeling from a deadly port blast that damaged much of Beirut.
  • Nigeria is gearing up to resume international flights in and out of the country nearly five months after shutting down its airports to curb the spread of Covid-19
  • EasyJet is slashing its UK operations and Ryanair is cutting its upcoming flight schedule by a fifth, in the latest signs that travel companies are struggling to make a comeback from the coronavirus pandemic.

TOP TIPS

As the global pandemic drags on, many of us are more stressed out than usual. And that often means scoring a lot less sleep at night. Enter sleep-focussed apps – here are some of the most popular apps and what they do:

Apps that nix noisy environments: Portal, White Noise Generator, Relax Melodies and myNoise

Apps to ease your busy mind: Pzizz, BrainTap Pro, Headspace and Calm

Apps by prescription: Somryst

TODAY’S PODCAST

They’re on the edge of the abyss.” – CNN International Correspondent Ben Wedeman

From brain fog to the loss of smell to strokes, we’ve been hearing a lot about the neurological symptoms of Covid-19. CNN’s Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta speaks to Dr. Chou about it in today’s podcast. Listen Now.